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Thread: Getting salt out of basement floor

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Getting salt out of basement floor

    Long story short: a few months ago several gallons of extremely briny water (out of the water softener) ended up on the floor of our basement. We mopped it all up at the time it happened, but the problem is that apparently the salt has soaked deeply into the concrete and keeps coming up. We vacuum and sponge mop it whenever it occurs but now the hot water heater and base of the furnace are starting to show signs of rust/corrosion. What can I do to ensure the salt does not do further damage? My father suggested sponge mopping with a vinegar solution - (the rationale being salt is a base and vinegar is an acid so they should neutralize, but that didn't seem to work. I wondered if maybe I covered it with a latex paint it might contain or encapsulate the salt.

    Any ideas?
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Veloise's avatar
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    Hints from Veloise

    Short-term: get an impermeable base to set the water heater on. Steel wool the corrosion off the furnace bottom, spray with Rust-oleum.

    Salt Deposits
    White or yellow alkaline deposits impair adhesive bonding on glued-down floor coverings. To remove the deposits, mop the floor with a solution of four parts water and one part muriatic acid, then rinse the slab with clean water. Muriatic acid is extremely caustic, so follow package directions carefully.

    Concrete sealer


    HTH

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Long story short: a few months ago several gallons of extremely briny water (out of the water softener) ended up on the floor of our basement. We mopped it all up at the time it happened, but the problem is that apparently the salt has soaked deeply into the concrete and keeps coming up. We vacuum and sponge mop it whenever it occurs but now the hot water heater and base of the furnace are starting to show signs of rust/corrosion. What can I do to ensure the salt does not do further damage? My father suggested sponge mopping with a vinegar solution - (the rationale being salt is a base and vinegar is an acid so they should neutralize, but that didn't seem to work. I wondered if maybe I covered it with a latex paint it might contain or encapsulate the salt.

    Any ideas?
    Don't know about neutralizing the salt but it's the combination with water that's causing corrosion. Running a dehumidifier will help if you're not already doing that. I wouldn't use latex paint on the concrete, I'd use a garage floor type sealer.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

  4. #4
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    I'd second the garage floor sealer suggestion. I'm not sure that would stop the salt from leaching back out of the concrete though, but it's definitely worth a try. You could probably get a heavy-duty vinyl type epoxy sealer that they use on the floors of the more high-end garages and that might be a bit better for the job. Of course, then you might want to seal the entire basement floor so you don't have one spot that looks totally different from the rest.

    Another short term fix could be to build a small wooden table that you could raise the hot water heater onto to keep it a couple of inches off the ground and stop the direct combination. I would imagine that if you had an inch or too of briny water from the softener in the garage though, the damage might already be done.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  5. #5
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Long story short: a few months ago several gallons of extremely briny water (out of the water softener) ended up on the floor of our basement. We mopped it all up at the time it happened, but the problem is that apparently the salt has soaked deeply into the concrete and keeps coming up. We vacuum and sponge mop it whenever it occurs but now the hot water heater and base of the furnace are starting to show signs of rust/corrosion. What can I do to ensure the salt does not do further damage? My father suggested sponge mopping with a vinegar solution - (the rationale being salt is a base and vinegar is an acid so they should neutralize, but that didn't seem to work. I wondered if maybe I covered it with a latex paint it might contain or encapsulate the salt.

    Any ideas?
    You can't stop chemistry from doing its thing. You can try to use an acid to neutralize it, but concrete is a dense sponge that does a good job of moving salts and other precipitates. I third lifting up the things that don't like salt corrosion. Paint may result in a blowing off the top layer of concrete, I suspect a sealer may do the same under heavy saturation, but not 100% on that one.
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    This might seem a little drastic, but you could opt for a controlled burn.

    But I could be wrong.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  7. #7
    Cyburbian ColoGI's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Richmond Jake View post
    This might seem a little drastic, but you could opt for a controlled burn.

    But I could be wrong.
    Drug flashbacks:

    Way back when, I sold floor covering for a firm that had the contract for a developer that built many houses on a floodplain east of Sacramento. Most of the houses were slab on grade and they pulled the moisture up and blew off the vinyl and wood floors. My boss had me spend some time on bead-blasting and other such pursuits. We finally ended up with the conclusion that there needed to be a wildfire through there to solve the problem. The builder went under, we didn't.

    Anyhoo, fire sounds good but the sponge is still there. There might be some good color in the flame for the kids...
    -------
    Give a man a gun, and he can rob a bank. Give a man a bank, and he can rob the world.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    It is something that also occurs naturally in old homes... like mine. Here is a link with cleaning information

    There is vinegar/ water/ lime juice mix that someone was telling me about that appears to work well. The acid burns up the salt and the water puts in into a slurry state.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Sounds like you need to take a aggressive approach... I use muriatic acid. It is nasty stuff but it works. I would not suggest this if this was your first attempt but since you are running low on ideas I would give it a try. You can get it at most home improvement or pool stores for about $5. The vapor will eat metal so make sure you keep it away from the hot water heater and your water softener.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

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